Watch More TV Faster — huh?

My morning routine -- sigh...

Like so many millions upon millions of Americans, I start out my morning by perusing the TV news shows. My DVR defaults to CNN. From there I go to MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS — and if they’re all in commercial breaks — gasp, I’ll check out Fox. Unfortunately, there are many times where every single network is airing a break and I’m stuck watching commercials.  (Memo to TV executives: try some counter programming, put your break about two minutes before the others. Then, people will be shifting back to you when all the others are in a break. Just a thought…)

So, a commercial for Direct TV or Dish TV pops up (hmmm, if I have trouble remembering which one, their marketing is not hitting me well) and the commercial focuses on three main things:

1. Cost of cable going up constantly.

To illustrate this, they show lots of fake headlines scrolling across the screen with banner headlines like “LARGE CORPORATE CABLE COMPANY JACKS UP RATES AGAIN!” This was intersting for mainly because newspapers are in decline. Just two days ago, right before the Gov. Rod Blagojevich (Illinois Governor) scandal, the big story in Chicago was that the Chicago Tribune parent company has filed for bankruptcy. Newspapers are having a terrible time competing against this, the internet. I run a syndicated column. I’m an advocate of newspapers. However, they are in deep trouble. Why do TV ads still feel they need to show newspaper clippings to make something legit? Just wondering…

2. The long list of channels

Bruce Springsteen wrote a song several years ago with the refrain, “57 channels and there’s nothing on.” He was so right except we now have 500 and there’s still nothing on. (Well, that’s not fair. I find my shows like everyone else but there does seem to be a great deal of “sameness” all over the air.) Direct (or Dish) TV is trying to point out that cable doesn’t have the variety or depth of satellite. They might be right. I’m still not sure I’ll find anything.

3. Features, Benefits

So, here’s where it comes down to the headline of this post. In marketing, you don’t sell features; you sell the benefits those features provide. For example, I work with weight loss a great deal. But, no one is joining Weight Watchers this week because of their new 2009 Momentum Plan to lose weight. They join for the benefits that weight loss provides, such as better health, feeling sexier, self confidence. To market a weight loss program, you don’t market the foods and the program, you promote what will happen when you use the foods or the program, right?

So, Dish (or Direct) TV lists their features and benefits, such as DVR, stopping live TV, multiple recording from one DVR (which is kind of cool), and a button they have on their remote which allows you to skip 30 seconds over any recording. Personally, I use Suddenlink Cable and I’m pretty happy with the service but I’d love one of those 30″skip buttons. Makes life easier than actually having to watch as your zap your TV ads. (Isn’t life tough for us?)

Watch TV faster

Watch TV Faster?

But here’s the thing, they promote the 30 second skip button as “You can watch more TV faster!” Huh? What does that even mean? I mean, I know what they’re trying to say. They mean you can condense a 60 minute program into about 43 minutes by zapping ads as they come across, but why don’t they just say, “You can easily skip the advertising with a push of the button.” Doesn’t that seem cleaner and easier to understand? What’s this “more TV faster” thing? It sounds like some sort of TV watching race.

I think — and this is just a hunch — that they didn’t want to put into the customers’ minds that you can skip TV ads because, well, they are a TV ad. But, that struck me as silly too. We all know about skipping TV ads. We’ve been doing that since VCRs entered the market. There were lawsuits from the networks against videotape companies and VCRs to make it illegal (really!).  One reason we pay for premium TV is to avoid ads.

Bottom line: if you have a benefit, say it clearly. Don’t try to be too cute. After all, wouldn’t it have caught your attention if they said, “If you had this 30 second skip button right now, you wouldn’t have to watch us tell you about it?

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~ by scottqmarcus on December 11, 2008.

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